V. I.   Lenin

An Epidemic of Credulity

Published: First published in Pravda No. 76 June 21 (8), 1917. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 65-66.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and C. Farrell
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Comrades, the resistance of the capitalists has apparently been broken.”

We gather this pleasant news from a speech by Minister Peshekhonov. It is staggering news! ’The resistance of the capitalists has been broken.”

And such ministerial speeches are heard and applauded! What is this but an epidemic of credulity?

On the one hand, they use "the dictatorship of the proletariat" more than anything else to scare themselves and other people. On the other hand, what is the difference between the idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and breaking the resistance of the capitalists? None whatsoever. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a scientific term indicating the class which plays the leading role in it and the special form of state power called dictatorship, i.e., power based not on law or elections, but directly on the armed force of a particular section of the population.

What is the purpose and significance of the dictatorship of the proletariat? To break the resistance of the capitalists! And if "the resistance of the capitalists has apparently been broken" in Russia, it is as much as saying "the dictatorship of the proletariat has apparently been realised" here.

The “only” trouble is that this is no more than a ministerial phrase. Something like Skobelev’s brave exclamation: "I shall take 100 per cent profit!”[1] It is one of the gems of the “revolutionary-democratic” eloquence that is now overwhelming Russia, intoxicating the petty bourgeoisie, befogging and corrupting the people, and spreading by the handful the germs of an epidemic of credulity.

A scene in a certain French comedy—the French seem to excel at the game of socialist ministries—has a gramophone record that repeats, before audiences of voters in every part of France, a speech full of promises by a “socialist” Minister. We think Citizen Peshekhonov should pass on his historic phrase, "Comrades, the resistance of the capitalists has apparently been broken", to a record company. It would be very convenient and useful (for the capitalists) to spread this phrase throughout the world, in every language. Here we have, it would say, the splendid achievements of the Russian experiment in having a bourgeois and socialist coalition Ministry.

Still, it would be a good idea if Minister Peshekhonov, whom both the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries (who in 1906 dissociated themselves from him in their press, regarding him as a petty bourgeois who had moved too far to the right) call a socialist now that he has entered the Ministry together with Tsereteli and Chernov,answered the following simple and modest question:

Isn’t it too much for us to try to break the resistance of the capitalists? Shouldn’t we rather try to expose before the labour unions and all the major parties the fantastic profits made by the capitalists? Shouldn’t we try to abolish commercial secrecy?

Isn’t it too much for us to speak of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” (“breaking the resistance of the capitalists")? Shouldn’t we rather try to expose embezzlement and misappropriation?

If the price of coal supplies has been raisedby the revolutionary government, as reported by the ministerialRabochaya Gazeta”, doesn’t it look like plunder of the state? Hadn’t we better publish, at least once a week, the "letters of guarantee" of the banks, and other documents relating to war contracts and to the prices paid under those contracts, rather than make speeches about "the resistance of the capitalists having been broken"?


[1] Reference is to the speech which the Menshevik Skobelev, Labour Minister of the Provisional Government, made at the meeting of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on May 13 (26), 1917, saying that taxation of the propertied classes should be increased “to 100 per cent of their profits”.

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